My heart is torn between East and West. I live somewhere between the present and the past. I don't know who I am.

Just another human being biding their time on this earth. Passionate about current affairs, history, politics (particularly MENA region), religion, cute animals and food.

Disclaimer: All photographs on this blog do not belong to me but to their rightful owners unless otherwise stated. All efforts have been made to link the material back to its original source. Please drop me a message if you see any of your material and would like to have it removed!
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Politicians on both sides of the campaign hail the huge turnout in Scotland as the first result is announced in Clackmannanshire:

YES: 16,350 

NO: 19,036 

88.6% turnout

These are results from only one voting area out of 32 areas participating in this Scottish referendum. Counting is still underway in the remaining 31 areas. Results for Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two largest cities in Scotland, are expected by 5am. The turnout for this referendum is highly impressive but judging by the comments coming out from both camps, I think the ‘No’ vote will prevail this time round.

Absolutely love this mix, nothing compares to Coke Studio Pakistan!

ISIS, our daughter

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking video. I cannot say that I agree with all that he has to say, especially with regards to the fact that he doesn’t explain the context and reasons behind the rise of ISIS but I guess that wasn’t the aim of the video in the first place. It’s well-presented nonetheless. Please watch till the end.


On Tuesday (09/09/14) there were calls for large-scale protests across Egypt by DankEgy campaign on Twitter and Facebook. We have monitored the protest events and in this post we will summarize the day in this post. You can view and download our collected data in Arabic and English.

There were 51 protest events held in 16 governates. As usual, Dakahlia governate is in the lead in terms of the number of protests,  followed by Beheira and Kafr El-Sheikh. Interestingly, Cairo was not among the top three this time.

In terms of the types of events, the most popular event seems to be a rally, followed by human chains and stands. Other protest forms, namely vehicle rallies also exist. 

Since Dank Movement had originally called for the protests, most of the protests were organized by them. The rest of the events were organized by Anticoup alliance and other groups. Note that in some cases we were unable to identify the organizers of the events. In such cases we assumed that the organizers were Dank.

Our protest map will be updated with all of September’s protests towards the end of September. In the meantime, why not follow us on twitter to stay updated with our coverage of events?


We are currently experimenting ways to aggregate various sources of protest events together. Our main fear is ending up with duplicates after merging multiple sources. For now, we would rather have an underestimated figure than an overestimate with redundancy. With that said, we also know that Mubasher Misr Network is a reliable network with a large number of reporters all over Egypt. Bear in mind that we are still in an experimental phase so things are likely to change rapidly in the future.

Great initiative, you can find them on twitter too.

Here are some of your responses to our third ‘Discuss’ post and I’d like to follow them up with some questions. You can still contribute to the post by answering, sending me a message or leaving a comment on the post itself:

the13thcatsmeow replied to your post: Discuss: World Maps

What would change? You mean terminology & its implications aka “west”, “global south”?

That’s a fascinating question actually. I guess the main focus of the original post was changing the map itself i.e. the image and the way it’s laid out. Some might consider the issue of terminologies to be a wholly different debate but I tend to disagree with this. So my questions to you are: do you think that these terminologies would change by themselves once we adopt a different projection? Or is this something separate (and perhaps something more important) that has to be worked on? 

mapsandshhtuff answered your post: Discuss: World Maps

I think the Mercator Projection is a lot more of an issue than the Robinson Project.

Why do you think this is the case? Do you believe there’s an “ultimate” projection that should be adopted? Why/why not?

204 plays

'Talk to me, not about me': Afghan women left out in the cold by NATO

Photo: An Afghan women’s rights campaigner, Samira Hamed, has flown 4,500 miles from her home in Kabul to protest at the lack of female delegates at the Nato summit in Wales. (Barry Batchelor/PA Wire)

Mary Anne Layden, PhD, Director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania writes a fascinating paper entitled “Pornography and Violence: A New Look at Research.” I would encourage doubters of my thesis to read the entire paper:

“For many reasons, as we shall see, pornography is a very effective teacher of beliefs and behaviors, and one that also teaches its users that the behaviors are acceptable and stimulates them to do so…

Males who viewed sexual violence obtained higher scores both on scales measuring acceptance of interpersonal violence and the rape myth [the belief that women actually enjoy rape and suffer few negative consequences], when compare to males who viewed either a physically violent or neutral film. The increase in attitudes supporting sexual violence following exposure to pornography is greater if the pornography is violent than if it is non-violent.

A similar effect is seen even when the pornography is not violent. Males who are shown non-violent scenes that sexually objectified and degraded women and were then exposed to material that depicted rape indicated that the rape victim experienced pleasure and ‘got what she wanted.’

Even women who were exposed to pornography as a child have a greater acceptance of the rape myth than those who were not. Those exposed to pornography recommend a sentence for a rapists that was half of that recommended by those who had been shown non-pornographic imagery. These subjects appear to have trivialized the crime of rape.”

And then there’s this, as cited by the Berkmen Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School:

[Excerpts of the] Report of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography: Section 5.2.1 Sexually Violent Material

“…[C]linical and experimental research … [has] focused particularly on sexually violent material, [and] the conclusions have been virtually unanimous. In both clinical and experimental settings, exposure to sexually violent materials has indicated an increase in the likelihood of aggression. More specifically, the research, … shows a causal relationship between exposure to material of this type and aggressive behavior towards women.

…The evidence also strongly supports the conclusion that substantial exposure to violent sexually explicit material leads to a greater acceptance of the ‘rape myth,’ in its broader sense - that women enjoy being coerced into sexual activity, that they enjoy being physically hurt in sexual context, and that as a result a man who forces himself on a woman sexually is in fact merely acceding to the ‘real’ wishes of the woman, regardless of the extent to which she seems to be resisting…”

And then there’s news stories such as this one out of the UK last year, entitled “Porn ‘drives youngsters to violence during sex,’” where the author notes that “Extreme pornography is driving thousands of young people to commit sex attacks, a study shows. Some nine percent of 14-21-year-olds admitted to carrying out some sort of sexual violence, including one in 50 who had raped someone. Those perpetrators tended to report ‘more frequently being exposed to media that depicted sexual and violent situations,’ the poll of 1,058 people found.”

I could go on. The evidence that pornography, especially violent pornography, both inherently trivializes rape as well as trivializes sexual assault in the minds of those consuming it as so-called entertainment or recreation, is as overwhelming as it is obvious. This is not a very difficult concept to figure out, either.

Regardless of your opinion on porn use, pornography is, at its very core, the systematic dehumanization of those being portrayed and the systematic degradation of unique human beings with personalities, ambitions, personal histories, and perspectives, to a one-dimensional sex object for one-sided consumption. It’s sexually carnivorous, and sexually cannibalistic. If you can boil a person down to a body or a collection of body parts, it’s scarcely surprising that violence against that person can be accepted much more easily by those participating in the dehumanization process of porn use.

As for those who say that my thesis is a moot point because rape culture doesn’t exist at all, I would merely point out that my claim here is not that there is a direct link between those viewing violent porn and sexual violence against women (although many others do make that claim.) The point I am making is that pornography leads to the trivialization of sexual assault, which is how many define the “rape culture.” That point, unfortunately, withstands all objection.


Photo: A couple wades through a flooded road after heavy rains in Lahore September 4, 2014.

Heavy rains kill 73 in Pakistan as floods spread

At least 73 people have been killed across Pakistan after heavy rains brought flash floods and caused homes to collapse in the Punjab and Kashmir regions, government officials said Friday.

Most deaths occurred in the city of Lahore, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s powerbase, further damaging the government’s standing after weeks of protests aimed at forcing the premier to step down.

As the political crisis dragged through its third week, people’s attention turned to the devastation brought by the floods, with television channels showing live images of villages and towns inundated by muddy water.

At least 43 people have been killed in Punjab province and 30 in the Himalayan region of Kashmir in recent days, officials said.

"Most of the 43 dead in Punjab died because the roofs of their homes collapsed," said Nisar Saani, a director at the Punjab Disaster Management Authority. “The rest were electrocuted.”

Authorities have issued flood warnings across the country.

"We are bracing for more deaths as more rains are expected," said Khawaja Omer Rashid, a spokesman at Kashmir’s disaster management authority.

In the Indian part of the disputed Kashmir region, at least 65 people were killed after heavy rain triggered flash floods, officials there said on Thursday.

(via zdlra)

Today, we’re discussing world maps. This is a relatively recent debate but one which has its roots set deep in history. It is concerned with the representation of countries on world maps and how they are perceived as a result: 

So today’s question is, should we start changing our maps from this:


To this:


Why/why not?


Egypt in a Week: A weekly round-up of news, reports, opinion pieces, blogs and various other tidbits concerning the latest developments in Egypt.

  • We’ll start off with Egypt’s power crisis which has caused a number of disturbances to metro lines, telecommunications and water supply systems throughout the country. This has prompted many Egyptians to take to twitter in order to vent their frustration at the continued blackouts.
  • Meanwhile, the Egyptian government has requested more than LE80 billion in loans (the equivalent of US$11.2 billion) from local banks to help it deal with increased inflation after the hike in fuel prices implemented earlier this year. The UAE has also continued to supply Egypt with aid, this time in the form of $8.7 billion in much-needed petroleum products to help the country meet its soaring energy demands. The alliance between the two countries grew after the ousting of former president, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup last year. The two countries recently hit the headlines after secretly launching airstrikes on militant bases in Libya resulting in a flurry of condemnations.
  • Egypt’s tourism sector is continuing to falter after new reports reveal that revenues from Egypt’s tourism sector have fallen by 54% since 2011 whilst revenues from ancient monuments fell by 95%. One of these ancient monuments, the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, sustained serious damage whilst being restored in what antiquity activists have described as a "a full-fledged crime."
  • Human rights have continued to take a hit this week as the Egyptian government kept up with its increasing crackdown on the opposition. In addition to 18 protesters receiving 3-year prison sentences, Mohamed Tareq, an academic who had featured in a Human Rights Watch report regarding the massacre of protesters in Rab’a Square in August of last year, was arrested alongside 5 other men at a protest and subsequently beaten and detained. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch condemned Tareq’s arrest and described it as “a new low.”
  • The media focus has, once more, shifted to highlight the evergrowing number of hunger-striking activists in Egypt’s jails. Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) has called for two of these activists, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Abdel Rahman Nouby, to be transferred to an external hospital following a deterioration in their health. Douma and Nouby joined a number of activists in Egypt’s jails by announcing a hunger strike earlier this year to protest their imprisonment.

Also of Interest:

Photo: A taxi driver waits in line for fuel at a gas station, one of the businesses affected by a power outage in Giza, Cairo’s neighboring city, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 4 2014. Egypt suffered a massive power outage that halted parts of the Cairo subway, took TV stations off the air and ground much of the country to a halt for several hours Thursday, as officials offered no clear explanation for how the country suddenly lost 50 percent of its power generation. (AP Photo/Eman Helal)


As much as I want to believe this, it would be great if it was true, but I’ve seen and heard nothing of Muslims condemning ISIS save for one picture.

The funny thing is, you just completely proved the point being made in the tweet, clearly you haven’t been listening to Muslims at all:

This is just a taster. Now run along and do some research before making petty generalisations.


Hidden Camera Shows Haunting Stares Women Face on Egypt’s Streets

While once upon a time Egyptian men and women could walk carefree along the Nile River and on the bustling streets of Egypt, today women walking along the same paths often feel objectified: from the heavy eyes of men lingering around them and the misogynistic catcalls to the ‘accidental’ brushing of men’s hands on their bosoms.

For many fortunate people, this is a reality they cannot imagine. Yet the ‘Creepers on the Bridge’ video by Tinne Van Loon and Colette Ghunim from one of Cairo’s busiest public streets accurately depicts the harsh realities that women in Egypt face each time they step out the door, no matter the colour of their skin, their religion, or what they are wearing.

To learn more about the video, which was paired by a popular song that tells the story of the sexual harassment epidemic in Egypt, Egyptian Streets spoke with both Tinne and Colette regarding their filming of the video and the experiences they faced.


Personal experience. After constantly hearing stories of both foreign and Egyptian women who face sexual harassment in Cairo, as well as walking on the street ourselves, we wanted to capture the persistent feeling of anxiety every time we walk alone.

The fact is that every time a woman walks outside, no matter what she’s wearing, a large majority of men stare, unabashedly. They scan her entire body as if she is a mere object, not  a valued human being. The high frequency of stares makes it the most common form of sexual harassment, violating women’s ability to feel safe while walking in the streets.

We are currently working on a half hour documentary about sexual harassment in Cairo, and we were looking to film the typical stares. After we secretly recorded the video and cut the parts together, we felt it was powerful enough as a stand-alone piece.


Colette walked down the Kasr El-Nil bridge, secretly recording with an iPhone. She held it by her mouth with headphones plugged in and pretended to talk on the phone. She pretended to be deep in conversation, looking straight ahead of her. Whenever she felt eyes on her, she turned the phone slightly towards them. The clip was filmed in a single 5 minute walk around sunset, as people often gather on the bridge after the temperature cools down.

We made sure to record Colette beforehand in order to show her appearance. Because she is of Arab descent, she fits in with Egyptian society more easily. She wore a long skirt, a t-shirt, and a cardigan to prevent any dismissals of the footage, such as having worn something to provoke them.

As groups of men often stare together, we decided to slow down the video for viewers to view all their intimidating expressions at once.

We also recorded catcalls while filming, but because Colette was pretending to be on the phone, we couldn’t include them without hearing her speak in Arabic. Instead, we decided to pair the footage with the song “A3akes Ah At7rash La2″ by Sadat & Fifty, translating to “Flirting, Yes, Harassment, No.” We thought it was particularly fitting since most young men listen to popular Electro Sh3abi music.


Before we went to film, we practised holding the phone to make it look as unsuspicious as possible. We know that in Egypt, filming in public is risky due to political conspiracy, and we did not want to face any accusations.


On that day, there was an especially large amount of men, because it was both Friday and the ending of an Ultras (football fans) gathering. All the young men were walking down the bridge in large groups, which made it even more intimidating to walk amongst them. While each of us took turns walking across the bridge alone, the groups of stares were so intimidating that we felt extremely defensive, ready to react if necessary. We both felt the same nervousness of receiving physical harassment.


Regarding our walk on the bridge, we didn’t necessarily learn anything new. We knew before we started that we would receive looks and comments, seeing as this is a daily occurrence for women on the street. The intimidation we felt reinforced the fact that harassment exists in a variety of forms. Unfortunately, unrelenting stares are only the beginning.

When we shared the video online, it rapidly gained popularity with over 1000 views in one day. It prompted Facebook users from around the world to engage in complex discussions on sexual harassment. This helped us confirm that the issue resonates beyond just Egypt, even though it is one of the countries most affected.


We are in the process of producing a half hour narrative documentary about sexual harassment in Cairo. We will weave together compelling stories, such as how one determined girl challenges her harasser, as well as how a lawyer prepares for a ground-breaking court case. Get updates about the film by liking our Facebook page!

This is unbelievably representative of what Cairo is like.


Praying for everyone in Pakistan, my people deserve so much better and the last thing people need to be celebrating right now is a military coup d’état and calling it “democracy” or “road towards peace”.